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Mexico City at the Forefront of Sustainability

By Fadlala Akabani - Mexico City Ministry of Economic Development
Minister of Economic Development


By Fadlala Akabani | Secretary of Economy Development - Wed, 11/16/2022 - 09:00

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On Oct. 3, Head of Government of Mexico City Claudia Sheinbaum delivered her fourth government report to the public, including representatives from civil society, businesspeople, legislators, governors and diplomatic representatives. One of the central themes of her administration is sustainability. Based on the General Development Plan of Mexico City 2020-2040, the government of Mexico City proposes to achieve sustainability by restoring the limits of the natural environment of the Valley of Mexico, the reduction of social inequalities, and the improvement of the quality of life of current and future generations.  

Historically, the urban development of the city has contested rural and natural areas. The economic pressures associated with the intensive use of land for housing or productive purposes has accelerated the degradation of ecosystems. As a result, the city has become vulnerable to the effects of climate change and socioeconomic inequalities. Mexico City is at a crossroads concerning its ecosystem restoration, natural resources, biodiversity and quality of life of its residents. In this context, the Mexico City government has implemented a series of public policy actions aimed at guaranteeing sustainability with three main approaches: electromobility, environmental recovery, and solar energy.

In Mexico City, mobility is understood as a necessity and a right. Therefore, the public transport network is being expanded and modernized at an unprecedented pace and scale. Between 2019 and 2022, the city government allocated a US$5.5 billion budget for transport infrastructure and maintenance projects.  That is only 10 percent less than the entire mobility budget of the previous administration (2013-2018), considering the budget contractions of 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. Despite this disruption, investment in public transport has been higher than in any year prior to the pandemic. In fact, thanks to the city's robust economic recovery, fiscal year 2022 saw the largest mobility budget increase on record with 31 percent more public resources allocated than the previous year. 

Mexico City's public investment for transportation infrastructure has moved away from a car-centric perspective to a sustainable and inclusive mass transit electromobility model.  By the end of Claudia Sheinbaum's administration, the city will have three new cable bus lines, two metro lines and one tram line completely renovated, a 1,000 zero-emission bus fleet, the first elevated trolleybus line in the world, the largest bike-share system in Latin America, and two intercity passenger train lines connecting with two international airports.  

In terms of environmental recovery, Mexico City has the Planting Parks program. Its objective is to create and regenerate environmental infrastructure as dignified spaces that strengthen the social fabric in coexistence with nature, mainly in neighborhoods with little vegetation and marginalization. Over 1,400 hectares have been restored since December 2018 with 16 new public parks, including Cuitlahuac Park, Gran Canal Park, Cantera Park, and Canal Nacional Park. Around 15,120 brigade members develop ecological restoration activities across the city’s natural reserves. Also, 12,488 residents of rural areas have strengthened the agroecological and hydrological systems south of Mexico City using an ancient Aztec technique called chinampas. The Mexican capital is carrying out the largest reforestation program in its history with a record number of 34 million trees, shrubs, herbaceous and ground cover planted since 2018. This is 10 times more than what was planted in the six years of the last administration. 

Moreover, Mexico City has a comprehensive program to guarantee the human right to access clean water, which seeks to reduce overexploitation of the aquifer and preserve environmental services and ecosystems. This represents a US$82.3 million public investment for major maintenance of the city's water and sewage network to avoid leaks. Likewise, important water bodies have been restored to improve water quality, including the Xico wetland, the San Lucas Dam, and the Magdalena,  Eslava,  San  Buenaventura, and Santiago rivers. Similarly, 268 water wells have been rehabilitated; 19,364 water consumption measurement devices have been installed and 87,830 more have been rehabilitated; and three water treatment plants have been added to the network. An additional action is the incorporation of rainwater harvesting systems in 40,721 homes in low-income neighborhoods through the Water Harvesting program.

In energy matters, Mexico City has a clearly detailed mandate in its "Environmental and Climate Change Program 2019-2024," which is the seventh axis titled "Solar City." The Ministry of Economic Development assists more than 164,000 homes, businesses, and public buildings in the installation of renewable energy technologies, such as photovoltaic systems and solar water heaters, to improve energy efficiency, reduce consumption, and generate savings on energy bills. Likewise, the largest solar power plant in the world within a city is being built on the rooftops of Mexico’s largest wholesale market located in Iztapalapa. It will have a generation capacity of up to 18MW, enough to supply the electric transport system or about 440,000 users with clean energy. Also, the Buen Tono electrical substation is being built as part of the modernization works of the energy supply system for subway lines 1, 2 and 3 with an investment of US$222 million. This will be the largest and most modern substation in Latin America with the capacity to supply power to a city of 1 million people. With these actions, by 2024, Mexico City will create 10,700 green jobs and mitigate the emission of 2 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Mexico City is at the forefront of sustainability. With decisive actions, it is expanding and modernizing the public transport network under the premises of electromobility, it is seeking environmental recovery and preservation of natural resources, and it is also promoting energy transition to renewable and clean sources like solar.  The Mexican capital works on sustainable economic development by strengthening its capacity to generate green jobs, by protecting the environment, and by promoting renewable energy.  There are two more years left to keep pace with this trend, and there is potential to implement this model of economic development with a social and environmental  vision in the rest of the country. 

Photo by:   Fadlala Akabani

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